‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Star Carrie Coon Talks Franchise’s Future, ‘The White Lotus 3’ and Owning 10,000 Blu-rays 


Before Carrie Coon busted ghosts with a proton pack in the Ghostbusters franchise, she battled the ghostly figures of the Guilty Remnant with a garden hose on The Leftovers. Of course, both projects are wildly different in genre and tone, but they’re two of several examples where Coon has added a welcome complexity to mother characters that is not as common as it should be. In Gil Kenan’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,  the sequel to Jason Reitman’s 2021 franchise revival, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Coon picks up right where she left off. Her Callie Spengler, along with her boyfriend Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) and teenage children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), are now full-fledged Ghostbusters, operating out of the famous firehouse in New York City.

“Callie feels like a very real mom who’s maybe not always great at the job, and makes mistakes and has to make repairs. That, to me, feels really grounded in reality in a way that movie moms aren’t always, especially when they’re serving a function in a story like Callie kind of is in this second film,” Coon tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And so I just appreciate that [co-writers Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan] are always writing a family dynamic that feels like it could be very, very real, even though we’re busting ghosts.”

Afterlife was a loving tribute to both Harold Ramis and his character of Egon Spengler, and just a few months after its release, the Ghostbusters family lost another one of its co-creators, director Ivan Reitman. Understandably, Jason Reitman took a step back from directing Frozen Empire, which, like Afterlife and Ramis, concludes with a dedication to Ivan. So Coon greatly admired Jason’s self-awareness in handing the reins to his co-writer, Kenan.

“Grief is such a profound and long process, and the only way [out] is through. So I really respect Jason for knowing himself well enough to realize that he did have to take that step back,” Coon says. “He was still on set with us and still very present, but when you saw him, it was always clear how palpable the experience was. There was that feeling that his father wasn’t going to get to see this. It’s like your parent never meeting your child. It’s that profound.”

Coon continues to be the apple of HBO’s eye, as she’s currently filming her third HBO series, The White Lotus season three, in Thailand. Following last year’s strikes, she admits that there’s a greater sense of gratitude in the air, especially as the industry is tightening its belt and reducing output.

“All of us in Thailand are pinching ourselves at the opportunity. We all know these are really coveted jobs. They’re hard to get. There are fewer of them. The industry has contracted a little bit since the strike, so we’re all aware of how fortunate we are to have a job at all,” Coon admits.

Due to an uncanny resemblance, Coon and Mindhunter actor Anna Torv are often mistaken for one another, and the Ohio native/Chicago transplant has always had a sense of humor about it on social media. However, the Coon-Torv case of mistaken identity came to a head when she met Frozen Empire co-star Patton Oswalt for the first time.

“When I first met Patton [Oswalt] on the set — and he’ll hate me for this — he said, ‘Can I get a picture with you? My daughter loves The Last of Us.’ And I said, ‘Oh, Patton, that’s not me!’” Coon says with a laugh. “So even Patton had us confused for a little bit, but it’s pretty funny. And listen, I’m flattered. I’ll take it. She’s great.”

Below, during a recent conversation with THR, Coon also discusses her family’s robust physical media collection and their recent movie night that involved John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2

Physical media icon Carrie Coon, congratulations on Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.

Thank you very much, and yes, being crowned the Queen of Hard Media has really been the main pleasure of my week. [Writer’s Note: Coon revealed on The Tonight Show that her and her husband Tracy Letts own over 10,000 Blu-rays. Various film outlets have since paid their respects.]

So was Bill Murray jealous of the Chicago Cubs t-shirt you wore in this movie? 

I have to give Alexis Forte, our costume designer, credit for that, but I didn’t get Bill’s opinion on it last night. I’ll have to ask him next time I see him. But the first time I met Bill on [the Ghostbusters: Afterlife] set, he was just getting ready to get a Cubs game rolling in his trailer, and he invited me to come watch the game. As fellow Chicagoans, that was a nice invite. 

You’re probably a bit heartbroken that you didn’t get to reprise your role as Zuul in Frozen Empire. Have you and Signourney Weaver ever had the chance to bond over Zuul’s questionable fashion choices? 

(Laughs.) Much like myself, I think Sigourney really embraced her Zuulness. The more absurd, the better, I say. She’s such an icon. I was really rather starstruck the first time I met her and I really didn’t get a word in. I just wanted to take in everything she had to say. She’s such a smart woman and I just love listening to her talk, but I feel so grateful to be part of the Zuul legacy. It’s good company. 

Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Sony Pictures

We couldn’t talk about this during Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but I had no idea until recently that Bob Gunton played Egon on the day. Even though he was ultimately playing a CG character, did it make all the difference having a bona fide actor there for such an emotional scene?

Oh yeah! Anytime you can have a real face instead of a green screen, it’s helpful, and Bob brought so much warmth and pathos to that moment. He was never going to appear on screen, but he was so generous, and I’m just so grateful that he was there. I wouldn’t have been able to do that moment without him. I don’t know what I would’ve done if they had me hugging a pole.

I once theorized to you that the two individual scenes where Callie and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) get to know Egon through his laboratory were also supposed to represent Jason Reitman exploring his dad’s movie sets as a kid. Well, Jason later confirmed this to be the case, as the last movie was obviously a very personal experience between him and his father, Ivan. Thus, in light of Ivan’s passing, did you immediately understand why he had to step out of the chair for this one?

Oh, absolutely. Grief is such a profound and long process, and the only way [out] is through. So I really respect Jason for knowing himself well enough to realize that he did have to take that step back. He was still on set with us and still very present, but when you saw him, it was always clear how palpable the experience was. There was that feeling that his father wasn’t going to get to see this. It’s like your parent never meeting your child. It’s that profound. And so I think we all respected Jason’s process in that regard, and Gil [Kenan] has such a marvelous spirit. He brought a great energy to the set, and we knew we were in good hands right off the bat.

Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) and Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Sony Pictures

So I know you’re a serious, highly trained actor, but when Paul Rudd is reciting Ray Parker Jr’s “Ghostbusters” lyrics including the infamous line, “Bustin’ makes me feel good,” were you barely able to keep it together? 

(Laughs.) Look, I make a real point out of trying really hard not to laugh at Paul just to keep him in his place. Somebody needs to do that for Paul, and that’s me. You don’t see the take where Paul actually sings the entire song at the top of his voice while he pursues me out of the room. So they really did choose the most subtle version of that moment for the movie.

Your shared storyline is about discipline, so it makes sense that you were the disciplinarian on set as well.

Somebody has got to keep Paul in line, yeah. 

I apologize in advance as I’m about to get pedantic.

I love pedantry! 

I quickly noticed that the entire family used the Spengler name in the new movie, and I bring this up because I don’t think they went by the Spengler name in the last movie. Their last name was never said or written, but they likely went by Callie’s estranged ex-husband’s unknown last name. That would also explain why the kids didn’t know who Egon Spengler was. Someone at some point would’ve said, “Hey, are you related to Egon Spangler?” and they would’ve pieced it together.

That’s right.

And at the end, when Callie finally uses her maiden name in front of Bill Murray’s Venkman, I think that’s the first time she’s used her original name in a really long time, signaling that she’s forgiven her father at long last. So what do you make of this? Did they actually go by the ex-husband’s last name?

Jason and I talked about this, and it’s precisely because of that moment you pointed out at the end of the film. It’s really important, and it’s about identity, ultimately, and claiming your identity. And yes, I think we agreed that they were going by her ex-husband’s name. That’s never really specified in the film, but it was an important shift for her to take that on. Of course, it sets us up for this film where they’re actually in the firehouse and taking on the family business. So that was a really important change, and now we’re incorporating another outsider in Gary Grooberson. And “Will Gary Grooberson become a Spengler?” becomes the question of this second film.

Have you asked for any more details regarding Callie’s estranged ex-husband? 

I find that most of what you need to do your job is on the page. However, there is a scene in the first film where Gary and Callie talk about how the husband wasn’t really up for parenting Phoebe. There’s also some suggestion in that film that Callie maybe has a bit of a drinking problem. Maybe she hasn’t made the best choices in partners in the past, and so I appreciate that [co-writers] Gil and Jason are always writing a very real person who has flaws. I think Callie feels like a very real mom who’s maybe not always great at the job, and makes mistakes and has to make repairs. That, to me, feels really grounded in reality in a way that movie moms aren’t always, especially when they’re serving a function in a story like Callie kind of is in this second film. And so I just appreciate that they’re always writing a family dynamic that feels like it could be very, very real, even though we’re busting ghosts. 

Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Sony Pictures

One of Afterlife’s best scenes is when Callie and Phoebe argue about Egon’s legacy, and Callie then concludes the scene by calling him an “asshole” and saying, “Welcome to the family.” Well, Frozen Empire has a scene that seemingly bookends that earlier scene, as Phoebe now insults her mother and says something along the lines that she should be answering phones. Do you also consider that scene to be part two of their farmhouse argument?

Yes, that’s a very astute observation that you make, and I think families are patterns of behavior. We learn what we want to be and what we don’t want to be from the generations that came before us, and I think it’s really hard to be a single mom. So, what Callie is trying to express in that moment is how challenging her life has been because of the absence of support. And now she’s looking to Gary to offer that support to her and her family. It’s hard [for her] to be the bad guy all the time. It’s no fun to be the bad guy all the time, and it’s nice to be able to share that burden. So that’s what Callie is looking for, and I love your idea that it’s a bookend and continuation from the previous film. Jason and Gil do well by us to center the family story. It keeps the movie anchored on something, and should the franchise continue, that story of the family developing and the relationships deepening would continue to be part of a third movie. So I think that’s really smart, and it makes it really relatable. 

So the slogan of the streaming service Max is “The One to Watch for HBO,” and I’m of the belief that HBO’s own slogan should become “The One to Watch for Carrie Coon,” given that you’re now shooting your third HBO show, The White Lotus. [Coon previously starred on The Leftovers and currently stars on The Gilded Age.]

(Laughs.) That’s true.

Have you been offered the key to the network or a seat on the board at this rate?

(Laughs.) Maybe it’s just that no one else will hire me. Maybe everybody else thinks they’re foolish, but I am so grateful. I really do feel like part of the HBO family, and it is really wild to turn on a network’s streaming platform and see your face in a couple of spaces. So I feel really grateful that HBO has embraced me so wholly. I don’t think they’re going to let me run things anytime soon, but hey, this acting thing could dry up. You never know. Maybe I’ll reach out and see if there are any job openings. 

Between White Lotus creator Mike White’s great writing and having the option to live at a world-class resort that doubles as your shooting location, does it get any better than that?

Yeah, I think all of us in Thailand are pinching ourselves at the opportunity. We all know these are really coveted jobs. They’re hard to get. There are fewer of them. The industry has contracted a little bit since the strike, so we’re all aware of how fortunate we are to have a job at all. It’s really peak TV as they say. So the really coveted thing is great writing, and Mike White certainly offers that in spades, as well as really incredible direction. He works beautifully with actors, and so I’m having a marvelous time.

It also warmed my heart to see that you and Scott Glenn found your way back to each other. He played Killer Joe in your husband’s eponymously titled play, and he was your unofficial father-in-law, Kevin Garvey, Sr., on The Leftovers,. Have you actually reunited on set yet?

Yes, Scott did finally show up with his darling wife, Carol, and one of the first things he said to me was that one of the most exhilarating and challenging and fun jobs he ever had was Killer Joe. He tells everybody that, and it was an incredible turning point for Scott and his career. And the truth is that my husband’s plays are really fun to do. They’re really hard, but they’re really fun to act in. They’re funny, irreverent and challenging, and having done Bug and a few of Tracy’s other plays myself, I know what he means. It’s the best stuff to do on stage. It just never gets old. So I really love Scott. It was beautiful to see him again, and I hadn’t seen him since we were in Australia [for The Leftovers season three]. Well, I did run into him on the streets of New York when I was pregnant with my first son, but that was six years ago.

So I have great affection for your social media account on the platform formerly known as Twitter, and when properly verified people were de-verified last year, there was a wave of impersonation accounts. So you seized the day by tweeting, “I’m Anna Torv,” which alludes to a long-running joke about how you’re occasionally confused for Mindhunter’s Anna Torv. Well, she recently had a cool arc on HBO’s The Last of Us

I just watched it! She was great.

Out of sheer curiosity, because of your resemblance and your reign as the queen of HBO, did that part ever come up on your radar?

No, but  I think Anna Torv is a marvelous actress in her own right. She’s probably top of mind for those jobs. But I always joke that if I ever go down, like sprain my ankle or get Covid, they can just fly her in to fill in for the job, because nobody seems to be able to tell us apart. In fact, when I first met Patton [Oswalt] on the [Frozen Empire] set — and he’ll hate me for this — he said, “Can I get a picture with you?” And I said, “Of course.” And he said, “My daughter loves The Last of Us.” And I said, “Oh, Patton, that’s not me!” 

No way!

So even Patton had us confused for a little bit, but it’s pretty funny. And listen, I’m flattered. I’ll take it. She’s great.

Lastly, I also love that you tweet what movie you’re watching from your apparently sprawling physical media collection, and one of the recent titles caught my eye to where I have to ask you about it. Of course, I’m talking about John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2. What was your reaction/review?

(Laughs.) I haven’t seen [Mission: Impossible] 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 yet, but I have to admit [Mission: Impossible 2] is pretty cheesy. I also have to say that I’m not necessarily the audience those films are intended for, but one of the arrangements in my marriage is that Tracy always chooses what we watch. So whenever we go down to that basement, my hands are off the wheel and I just sit down on the couch to watch the film that Tracy has picked. So he’s always in charge of what’s next, and he’s very slowly moving me through the Mission: Impossible franchise. So once I see 3, I can go back and give you a review in context, let’s say, but there’s a lot of wild mask work in Mission: Impossible 2. And you do see some of those fun John Woo martial arts moments, which I really appreciate.

***
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire opens in movie theaters on March 22. 



Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

*